Evan Kalish’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
Even at just over three minutes, this felt like a slog. The theme didn’t appeal to me and with five theme entries and a revealer, there were a lot of lackluster entries. While I prefer my puzzles Saturday-tough, I enjoy a good Monday. I did not enjoy this one.
Even with five theme entries to ponder, I needed the revealer to figure out what was going on.
- 17a [Dachshund] is a WIENER DOG.
- 23a [Copies of movies submitted to critics prior to release] are SCREENER DVDS. I’m familiar with the term SCREENER and I’m sure they are sent on DVD these days, but does anyone actually say SCREENER DVD?
- 32a [Partner at a table for two] is a DINNER DATE.
- 42a [Times when everything goes perfectly] are BANNER DAYS. We would also have accepted [Times when the Hulk does not appear].
- 49a [Genetically engineered, highly selective medical treatment] is a DESIGNER DRUG. I’ve heard this term since I was in training, well before anyone was genetically engineering anything except dogs and plants (the old-fashioned way).
What do these things have in common? 60a [The secret geeky part of you … or a hint to 17-, 23-, 32-, 42-, and 49-Across] is INNER NERD. Google tells me that INNER NERD is a thing; it was new to me, but it’s clearly legit. But so much theme material and you end up with a lot of three-letter words, including SOL, SSN, ETA, NAS and NAT. That’s a lot of meh. I also don’t like SNOWS clued as [Winter precipitations] instead of the much more widely-used verb; if you’re going to use the noun, this would be the place for reference to Kilimanjaro.
A few other things:
- 1a [Aware, in a modern way] is not the true sense of WOKE. The word specifically refers to awareness of the kyriarchy and of one’s own privilege in the system of oppressions. It’s not a good look to say it about yourself.
- 5a [Idris ___, People’s 2018 Sexiest Man Alive] is a wonderful new clue for ELBA. Idris in! Napoleon out!
- 11d [Running around during recess, e.g.] is ACTIVE PLAY. One of the dumbest of many dumb rules in my kid’s school experience was that if the kids were too noisy in the lunchroom, they were kept inside for recess. If kids are noisy and restless, SEND THEM OUTSIDE. Send them outside anyway – kids need physical activity. So do grownups.
- My favorite entry in the puzzle is 29d [Announcer’s cry after a successful field goal attempt]: AND IT’S GOOD.
- 39d [Attorney in court, e.g.] is ARGUER, a word rarely seen in the wild but preserved in crossword captivity.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that DWADE is a 12-time All-Star. Adé knew that, I’m sure, because sports will make you smarter.
I leave you with the earworm implanted in my brain by the clue for 57d:
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Mixed Bag” — Jim P’s review
Hidden word theme today with THIS AND THAT (61a, [Miscellany, and a hint to the hidden words in the starred answers]).
- 17a [*Yesteryear, redundantly] PAST HISTORY
- 21a [*Deserving of making the effort] WORTH A TRY
- 38a [*”In fact…”] TRUTH IS
- 55a [*How some heavy objects fall to the ground] WITH A THUD
Fairly straightforward though WITH A THUD feels a little contrived.
Similarly, moving on to the fill, I really wanted WHAT A SHAME rather than IT’S A SHAME [“Too bad…”]. But CHIPS AHOY is great, and the rest of the longish stuff is solid: SETTLER, NO ENTRY, PETROL, “WHY, YES!” And GEISHA at 1a makes a nice opener to the grid.
Straightforward and solid Monday grid. 3.3 stars.
Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
No need to go on a fact finding trip for this fancy free Monday puzzle. Certainly not a Freaky Friday grid!
17A: FLASH FLOOD [Concern after heavy rain] – Especially after all the devastating forest fires we’ve had out here in CA!
23A: FAMILY FRIENDLY [Like G-rated movies] – This is certainly the conventional use of this phrase, but I’d argue it does some damage, especially since even the most benign TV show or movie related to the LGBTQ+ community rarely if ever gets a G-rating and is often said to contain subjects that aren’t “family friendly” because of any inherently queer content. What about queer families that would like to see themselves represented? Will we ever get a queer Hallmark holiday movie? I’ll take even the blandest one to get an example of queer “family friendly” fare that networks will stand behind.
39A: FISH FRY [Shore dinner]
52A: FOUNDING FATHER [American Revolution leader] – Yes, as long as we don’t forget all of the women who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make the achievements of the “Founding Fathers” possible!
63A: FORTISSIMO [Very loudly, musically … its symbol hints at four puzzle answers]
I’m trying to remember the last time I recall solving a puzzle where the theme was based on a symbol rather than wordplay within the puzzle. It was a nice use of general knowledge to inspire a theme! That all the theme entries area all strong and squarely in the vernacular didn’t hurt one bit. I enjoyed solving this one! The only square where I really struggled was the SPOORS / LOD crossing – neither of those were familiar to me, but it’s helped me learn something new!
#includemorewomen: Female constructor, check! Many females referenced throughout the puzzle, check! We have Lady Godiva, ANNE, FLO, Virginia WOOLF, ANA Gasteyer, SHE [Noted seashell seller], Kelly RIPA, and Tatum O’NEAL. Women exist! A fair amount of men also in the grid, but this one felt more on balance to me than other recent puzzles I’ve reviewed.
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword—Judge Vic’s review
Laura has the day off, so I’ll do the honors.
First and foremost, I enjoyed the puzzle. Second, I have something of a like/not-so-much relationship with The New Yorker crosswords. (That’s better than a love-hate relationship, no?) And, as always, a few thoughts raced about as I solved.
I dunno. It surely seems to me that Anna engages in some envelope-pushing. With the result that I do not quite finish her puzzles and I am puzzled by what winds up in her grids. So, this morning, before dawn, I downloaded this puzzle (I actually put out an APB on it at 11 CST last night, hoping someone in EST would send it to me, so I could get a head start, but that didn’t happen.) And, with coffee in front of me, I dug in with great resolve. Half an hour later I was done. Finished. Albeit with a couple of open boxes. I was reminded of Merl Reagle’s untitled poem that begins “Crossword puzzles are a lot like life” and concludes:
“And in the end, it doesn’t matter
if you have some empty spots here and there,
as long as it all adds up to something.”
Highlights and other things that caught my attention, positively, negatively, and just curiously:
- 1a [They’re sensitive to swears] VIRGIN EARS–I penciled in TENDER EARS, which I’ve heard for 60 years and which gets four times as many Google hits (230,000 v. 54,000). Ah, but VIRGIN EARS is in the Urban Dictionary. To say nothing of the V’s being necessary for 1d [It might help you get a move on?] VAN, so it was a quick catch on my part.
- 15a [Standard for dating] ANNO DOMINI–This I inserted confidently with only a couple of crossing letters to lead the way. 6d [Unambiguous refusal] NO WAY and 5d [Tennyson’s “___ of the King”] IDYLLS were gimmes.
- 17a [Slur approved by feminists] NASTY WOMAN–Au courant, I suppose, but “approved by” seems too strong for a phrase that was noticed only after being uttered by POTUS 45 in reference to a friend of mine (whom I do not consider to have been properly described thereby, I might add).
- 47a [Italian port city] BARI–I was clueless, even on reading the clue, thus finished with a gap in its crossing with 43d [Glazer of “Broad City”] ILANA, with whom I was unfamiliar. (Moreover, I was not helped by 57a [Cabbage resembling bok choy] NAPA, with which I tend to associate California wines and auto parts.)
- 48a [Bit of evidence, maybe] SCREEN GRAB–Great phrase, nice visual, though I can think of many other uses for a “frame of … video footage that is digitized and stored as a still image for subsequent [use]” (Oxford).
- 56a [Bygone storytelling medium] EPIC POETRY–I hate to think of it as bygone. That seems so final. Has anyone produced epic poetry in the past 200 years?
- 58a [They make a fashion statement?] SLOGAN TEES–I want to like this phrase. I really do! I hate to channel my late parents’ mentality and proclaim it “too clever by half.” But is it an ILSA, an in-the-language, stand-alone recognized phrase? It’s not even in the Urban Dictionary.
- 4d [Campaign whose first ad was directed by Michael Bay] GOT MILK–Got this easily, but had to wonder how one would be expected to know it. And then I saw in Wikipedia that Bay’s work won the 1993 Grand Prix Clio Award for Commercial of the Year. How could I have forgotten?
- 12d [Like anti-pornography feminism, per critics] SEX-NEGATIVE–New terminology for me, this. Wikipedia declares that SEX-NEGATIVE is among various terms that “overlap or are synonymous or interchangeable with antisexualism.” So, it’s legit, even though it’s not in any dictionaries. My question is who are the critics? And what are they critical of–feminism, anti-pornography feminism, both? (And I’m not complaining that 32a [Backhanded compliment] NEG seems duplicative, since the Urban Dictionary defines it as “a light insult wrapped in the package of a compliment.”)
- 24d [Put in the trash, say] DRAG AND DROP–I suppose dragging and dropping is one way to put something in the trash, but the clue feels arbitrary to me. More often than not, I delete, then empty the recycle bin.
- 42d [Neighbor of Cameroon] GABON–Oddly, and fortuitously it turns out, while glancing though an airline magazine’s maps of the continents late last week, I made a list of countries whose names have only five letters. Pretty sure that Gabon and Qatar are the only two with a as the second letter.
- 44d [Colombian street food] AREPA–I hadn’t a clue on this, but got it from crossers.
4.7 stars. Tough, but enjoyable.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday #492″—Judge Vic’s review
With 68 answers and only 26 blocks, this crossword was brutally tough for me. After a full 45 minutes, I had some areas that I probably would have gotten on my own sooner or later (I usually do when I allow myself multiple sittings). Anyhow, without the luxury of letting my brain sleep on some of the clues, I started guessing, wild-guessing …. And I was wrong more often than right.
It was amusing. Guessing PINK PANTHER for PINK MARTINI was only off by 7/11, about 64%, and no, I was not certain of any of the seven crossers when I did that. With MARTINI filled in, though, I was able to get six of them pretty quickly and finish the puzzle. I guessed wrong thrice at 53a and a couple times at 51d.
I’m chalking it off to a bad day on my part. Brendan had a good day. I could sense his pleasure in this puzzle. I cannot say that anything was other than fair, and I have very few nits to pick. Let’s review the highlights:
- 1a [Little laundry bag?] TIDE POD–I use these. I know what they are called. But I’ve never before thought of them as bags.
- 8a [Who asked ”How many divisions did you say the Pope had?”] STALIN–I didn’t know this historical fact and spent all my time trying to think of a comedian who might have said it.
- 14a [Like a rural road] ONELANE–I guessed one instead of two, which allowed me to get a bit of a start.
- 15a [Dog seen on the cover of the children’s book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters”] BO OBAMA–Great clue, great answer, great book, great author!
- 16a/58a [“You get what you deserve”] PLAY STUPID GAMES WIN STUPID PRIZES–I love this! Had not heard or seen it before. Hoped it was original with Brendan, but no such luck. Some very authoritative person with a user name like catiebug posted on some random site that I visited, “It’s one of those sayings that predates the Internet.”
- 26a [Strains on Black Friday] NOELS–This I guessed correctly early.
- 28a [“Let’s drink!”] SKOAL–I guessed SALUD, and nothing much came from that.
- 30a [“You bet”] TIS–I love this clue! I skimmed the 1143 listed on Matt’s database (I know it’s not really that many!) and did not see a dupe of it. Kudos!
- 31a [Giuseppe Verdi opera based on a Victor Hugo play] ERNANI–I proudly knew this one …
- 35a [Conductor who posthumously won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987] TOSCANINI–… and this one!
- 37a [Resembling some medicines] CAPSULAR–If I could have gotten the three crossers with C, A, & P, I’d have nailed this one!
- 40a [Vintage gas pump sign] NO LEAD–Holy moly! I tried CONOCO. I tried TEXACO. I even tried one that I used to see in Southeast Arkansas: HEP UR SEF.
- 53a [Cocktail ___] DRESS–Not having gotten 37d, 38d, or 39d, I guessed SAUCE, PARTY and HOURS. I don’t have a cocktail dress.
- 61a [Money generated in some budget sheets] ACTUALS–The New York Times crossword has twice contained ACTUALS, once in 1973 and once in 1993.
- 63a [Can’t stand] RESENT–This clue would also work for RESENTS. I can’t stand/resent Edwinna. She can’t stand/resents Edwinna.
- 1d [Of the highest quality] TOP-LINE
- 2d [Delivering] IN LABOR
- 3d [Goners] DEAD MEN
- 11d [De Niro’s “Raging Bull” role] LAMOTTA
- 12d [“No fooling!”] I MEAN IT
- 13d [Athlete nicknamed The Bucharest Buffoon] NASTASE
- 15d [Wealth earned by mining] BIT-COIN
- 17d [Cranberry flavored cocktail] PINK MARTINI –What a great run of several answers here! All adeptly clued.
- 36d [Providers of meals on wheels] CAR HOPS
- 37d [Tense political rivalry] COLD WAR
- 38d [Rapacity] AVARICE
- 39d [Apple gets more than 2,000 per year] PATENTS
- 41d [Biblical priest who was Moses’s nephew] ELEAZAR
- 42d [Wrapped up] AT AN END –What a great run of several answers here! All adeptly clued. I know: I’ve already said this once before. Burt it applies again.
- 51d [Brick name] DUPLO–With grandchildren toddling about, I’m supposed to know this word.
Well, it would appear that I really had no nits at all to pick. Great job, BQ! 4.7 stars here!
i liked the NYT. i didn’t think it had much crummy fill, and “inner nerd” or “inner geek” is a very familiar phrase to me… it made me smile to see it embedded in so many themers.
Agreed. I had no clue what was going on, and the revealer was smile-worthy. A very nice Monday puzzle.
Seconded on the love for the NYT. My wife has been trying to get into crosswords by doing the Monday puzzle and this was easily the most accessible one she’s ever done. This is what the Monday should strive to be week in and week out. Only the NAS/ALIA crossing was blatantly problematic.
I’m sorry about that NAS/ALIA crossing; it was not my own. Original submission had NPR/PROF at that spot, but there was a different possible issue with that corner. if you’re interested you can my constructor notes discuss this at XWord Info.
Name gridlock in the SW corner of TNY but otherwise very enjoyable.
Excellent BEQ. Dude’s great.
TNY: NASTY WOMAN was “appropriated”, not “approved”.
I’ll agree that the New Yorker puzzle’s fill and clues are pushing the envelop, mostly because “just plain weird” sounds ungenerous.
JUDGE VIC, thank you for explaining DRAG AND DROP. I filled it in, but could not understand it. My thought didn’t go as far as the computer.